Thursday, 31 December 2015

What a load of rubbish!

My last records from 2015 were from the front plate of this rubbish bin in Killay, Swansea (you can imagine the odd looks I had as I examined and photographed the bin). For ref the following were noted on the front of the bin; Bryum capillare, Frullania dilatata, Orthotrichum affine, O. diaphanum and Rhynchostegium confertum. The year was in fact far from being a load of rubbish and good progress was made with recording. Very best wishes for 2016 and a mossy New Year to all.

See also HERE for more dustbin bryoflora

Monday, 28 December 2015

Rhododendron clearance pioneer bryophytes

Today I stopped to take a very quick look at an area on the valley sides of Cwmdulais (SN618035), which were cleared of dense stands of Rhododendron ponticum four years ago. Vascular plants seem very slow in recolonising and the ground was found to be largely dominated by bryophytes, with the most abundant species being Ceratodon purpureus and Polytrichum juniperinum, with frequent Atrichum undulatum, Bryum capillare, Campylopus introflexus, Cephaloziella divaricata, Dicranella heteromalla, Pogonatum aloides and Polytrichastrum formosum. No surprises, but a good indication of the pioneer bryophyte assemblage which develops following ‘Rhody’ clearance on open hillsides. For reference the adjacent vegetation on non-affected slopes is principally Bracken-dominated, though there are some signs of this slowly re-establishing in cleared areas.
Polytrichum juniperinum
Ceratodon purpureus & Dicranella heteromalla
Interestingly Yellowhammers still occupy the Rhody areas, both cleared and dense stands, and we saw 7+ nearby in Sandra's aunties garden.

Rhossili Eurhynchium

A few patches of a rather small, compact and shortly-branched E. striatum were noted growing on a Limestone exposure at the southern end of Rhossili Down, and looked odd enough to compel me to bring some home to check for E. meridionale. I can't find any photographs of the leaves of the latter on line, but Smith shows meridionale as having rounded-quadrate rather than rectangular alar cells. Whilst the cells weren't as rectangular as shown, I'm reasonably satisfied this is just striatum. I thought it was worth posting a few pics to illustrate how this species can appear when growing exposed on coastal slopes. Main associates Trichostomum brachydontium, Saccogyna viticulosa and Fissidens dubius. As always, any comments on the id welcome.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Boxing Day pit stops

No real recording on an unusually dry day today, but a couple of pit-stops in Porthcawl and Margam produced a few records of local interest; these included Pseudocrossidium revolutum on a wall in Mary Street and the southern hemisphere alien Orthodontium lineare with an abundance of developing sporophytes on logs in Graig Goch Wood (photos above and below).

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Season's greetings

Best wishes to all for the festive season. Lets hope the new year brings plenty of exciting bryophytes.

(Given the unseasonal weather, I had to dig out a suitably festive bryo photo from last winter instead)

Monday, 21 December 2015

Broughton SS49B

Twlc Point, Broughton Bay
From one shy-fruiting pleurocarp to another, this time Homalothecium lutescens (photos below) growing on the north-facing sandy slopes above Twlc Point.

A little further west along the coast, the salt-sprayed Limestone cliffs at Foxhole Point supported a disappointingly impoverished bryoflora in comparison with that on South Gower. Tortella flavovirens was the most common species, growing on rock as well as soil, with the most frequent associates being Amblystegium serpens and Didymodon tophaceus.

Whilst the tarmac in the caravan park was more productive than the cliffs, with species of interest including Dialytrichia mucronata (photo below) growing amongst Syntrichia ruralis ssp. ruralis, along with a little ssp. ruralifomis (bottom left in lower photo), I still only managed to raise the tetrad total to 51.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Bracthythecium albicans, fruting

Last week I collected a few samples from the gravelly pathside on the approach to the barrage in Cardiff Bay. It was raining so I just stuffed a few samples in bags at intervals along the path (an approach I often use in urban areas where there are too many people around to loiter on hands and kness with a hand lens).

Checking them under the microscope later, as well as an abundance of Bryum ruderale were two samples of what I think is Brachythecium albians - they have the classic upright stringy shoots of that species and look spot on microscopically. The odd thing is that both samples has sporophytes - note very immature sporophyte in centre of top photo, as well as the old sporophyte on the left in the lower photo.

The Carms and Pembs floras mention that fruiting plants of this species have not been found in those counties, and I can't see any fruiting examples mentioned on the Glamorgan MapMate database. The books describe fruiting as rare in this species.

So, this would appear to be quite an unusual observation...unless I've made a howler with the ID! The seta is smooth which would rule out most other Brachythecium.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Banc John (SN60Z)

I spent and hour and half this afternoon in the n.w. corner of NPT in mostly acidic upland grassland, heath and mire habitats. It was very dark, but thankfully dry, and I managed to get the square total up to 86. Nothing terribly exciting but Pohlia camptotrachela (photos below) was a new species for me and is only the 6th tetrad in vc4. It was growing on a clay bank adjacent to a stream with associates including fruiting Dicranella rufescens (photo above). Adjacent mire held a little Sphagnum capillifolium ssp. capillifolium (photo above), this surprisingly only the 8th vc41 tetrad, although there are 42 tetrads in which the binomial has been recorded. An Adidas trainer in the middle of an area of acid grassland supported fruiting Bryum capillare and Ceratodon purpureus.

In the same tetrad, a carpet of Sphagnum squarrosum was noted under willows on the east side of Bryn Mawr.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Blog comments issue

For some reason any comments I make wont publish, so apologies for posting this here until I resolve the issue. I hope no one else is experiencing the same problem, clearly Charles and George are OK.

In response to the last post:
Thanks both, good to know a few more records will be forthcoming before the end of year. George, I'll send you a separate sync file with the BBS data. We should be able to do this as a one off, circumventing SEWBReC, though it's essential that you archive these records once you upload them (no need for Charles to do this as I'm his only sync partner).
It's been a bit slower than planned getting SN60 sorted as I've been clearing up Gower and Swansea squares at the same time [plus there's work], but we're close to the minimum target for coverage in Swansea now. I aim to do more target-species recording then as well as helping out in the east when opportunities arise.
Note for Sam: There's a whole batch of data from the eastern half of Caerphilly (I think you spotted this with the Ptilidium map), which is incorrectly tagged as being part of vc41 (e.g. see Bra.rut. map below). I'll identify these sites and pass them on to Dave, so he can sort these data for you.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Glamorgan tetrad update

I have recently received sync files from Charles & Hilary (a bit a of monster one with over 8,000 vascular & bryophyte records) and a smaller number from George (via SEWBReC), so this update is intended to show what's been achieved so far this year and is intended to help target any opportunities for future square-bashing. With 15 days left we'll probably fall short of 10,000 mark this year, although data from Sam and Peter may drag us over the line. Regardless of the final figure, it's been another remarkably consistent combined effort for the last four years, so well done to all involved in getting us this far.

As usual, I've added a previous map as it shows better where the additional records have been added, simply by flicking between the two maps. Note there's a nine-month difference between the two maps. I should add that it's a little bit of a cheat, as there are also 3766 records added from the BBS database, though it was surprising how little difference these records made to the maps overall. There are of course some very valuable records in that dataset.
Glamorgan has 614 tetrads. 257 now have totals that exceed the nominal target of 60 taxa, but clearly there's a bit of an east west split, with a large proportion of the 411 East Glamorgan tetrads still in need of recording effort. It's worth noting that 23 are shared tetrads with West Glamorgan and 66 other EG tetrads are already completed, leaving a paltry 300+ EG tetrads to look at - or to put it another way ... a paltry 300+ EG tetrads left to explore!

Friday, 11 December 2015

New turlough ??

Reading Georges blog on his trip to the Alun Valley I remembered I had also come across a large area of Marchesinia mackaii (MacKays Pouncewort) on a wooded Carboniferous Limestone outcrop on the western margin of the Nedern Brook Wetland, nr Caldicot (ST 48259 89508).
Marchesinia mackaii...I think !
That in itself is perhaps not that interesting, however the site in question certainly is !

I’ll keep it short: The Nedern Brook Wetland, is quite unusual, it is for all intents and purposes a ‘turlough’, however I don’t really like using that name in Wales.  It is dry in the summer and in the winter groundwater flooding creates a lake 1.5km long and up to 2m deep (report being finalised for NRW as we speak).  As you will know this is a very rare habitat in the UK, only one site in Wales, Pant-y-llyn nr Crosshands, currently fits the description, and there are only three very small ones in Northern Ireland completing the UK habitat.

Nedern Brook Dry (with Egret in shot too!)

Nedern Brook full of water 
Why have I never heard of this site?’ I hear you cry….well good question, I really don’t know, and I am convinced it deserves a higher profile, if only for its hydrology.

Hydrologically the site fits the turlough description however I would love to find some of the bryos that are associated with this habitat, namely: Fontinalis antipyretica and Drepanocladus aduncus and others, across the margins where seasonal flooding occurs.  I had a trip to the site with Julian Woodman looking for water peppers but we didn’t really attack the bryos on the seasonally flooded margin.

If anyone finds themselves near Caldicot and fancies a look let me know!

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Epipterygium tozeri

One to keep an eye open for on ditch/lane banks. This specimen was collected from the banks of a muddy ditch at Pilton Green where little else of any real note was recorded. Note the oval leaves, which are flat, have a thick border, narrow base and a strong costa that stops well short of the leaf tip. It's only the 5th time I've seen it in Gower, so may not be that frequent in the county.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Slade cliff seawatch

I treated myself to a seawatch at Port Eynon at first light on Sunday morning, but it was so drizzly when I arrived, that visibility did not extend beyond the surf. So a backup plan to add a few more records to SS48X was put in place and in the relative shelter of Slade Valley I managed to add a few species of interest; these included a mound of Weissia controversa var. densifolia growing under the hinge of a galvanized gate and some good patches of Plasteurhynchium striatulum growing on an outcrop under the coastal scrub. After 30 minutes the rain started to ease so I took my scope onto the cliff, but with little passing I soon became distracted by the bryophytes growing around me. I spent 30 blustery minutes with a hand lens adding some good species to the square, the best of which were Fossombronia caespitiformis (=husnotii) [photos above] which was frequent but scattered over many square metres, a little Bryum kunzei (=funkii), occasional Microbryum starckeanum and even smaller, what I'm pretty sure what is a new species for me, Cephaloziella calyculata [photos below]. There is a however, however, as the material was non-fruiting. The key in Paton took me quickly to calyculata/integerrima but the angular pale green gemmae and habitat seem to be the only distinctions between the two when non-fertile; integerrima usually displays red pigments and is not typically associated with Limestone. Perhaps Sam can let me know if this is a safe id? Like the Fossombronia, plants were scattered across a good area, so potentially quite a significant population if confirmed. I'm not sure what species the Cephaloziella is in the photos above (rather sparse oval gemmae present on a few shoots and underleaves frequent so possibly divaricata), but I initially thought the plants below might have been Lophozia excisa until closer inspection revealed pale green gemmae.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Radyr Quarry

I only became aware of the existence of Radyr Quarry thanks to to three bryophyte records made by A.E.Wade in 1950. Despite being close to home the quarry is completely hidden in trees and scrub, and doesn't stand out on my Explorer OS Map. After a bit of online research I discovered it was quarried for Radyr Stone from the 1800s until around 1920, after which it was used as a refuse tip.

Yesterday lunchtime I visited the southern end of the quarry (ST139794) and was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of bryophytes on the very shady rock faces. Radyr Stone is a breccia, comprising Triassic red sandstone with embedded fragments of Carboniferous Limestone. Given this one would  expect the flora to be calcicolous, and this proved to be the case. A single large tufaceous patch was covered in Eucladium verticillatum (photo below).

Not far away there were several patches of Leiocolea turbinata on soil-capped ledges (photo below), a new species for me. I think both this species and the Eucladium are new for ST17.

The quarry extends a fair way to the north, where it can be accessed via a LNR in Radyr (probably easier than the scramble through brambles at the southern end). I'll certainly check out the rest of it at some stage.

Incidentally, the three species Wade recorded were Riccardia chamedryfolia, Tortula modica and Microbryum davallianum. There is probably no suitable habitat remaining for the latter two species, which shows how much the quarry has changed in the last 65 years.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Tor Clawdd (north)

The highlights of a brief sojourn into SN60T (which before today's efforts had 25 species logged) were Pohlia drummondiiCladopodiella fluitans (amongst Sphagnum in the bog in the above photo) and Marsupella emarginata var. aquatica (on rocks in the stream below the bog, growing alongside Scapania undulata and Racomitrium aciculare), the latter being the first county site away from Craig-y-Llyn.

The P. drummondii is pretty convincing with single axillary, large (mostly 600-700 μm) reddish-brown bulbils with leaf primordia well down the bulbils. The grab shots above give a general impression. There were good numbers of plants in several clusters, each extending 10-30cm. The location was behind the boulders shown below on gravelly ground. If confirmed, this will be just the second vc41 record since Sam recorded it at Abercanaid in 2003.